Astros History: Carlos Beltran Is Brilliant

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 16: Carlos Beltran #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals scores a run against Brayan Pena #27 of the Kansas City Royals at Busch Stadium on June 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Gerry Hunsicker had an entire legacy here in Houston wrapped up in two moves: the Randy Johnson trade and the one in the summer of 2004 when he brought in Carlos Beltran for his closer and a few minor league pieces.

Beltran went on to have a huge impact before hitting free agency.

Let's try to separate any angst about those negotiations from what he did with the Astros, because he was pretty brilliant in Houston. It started with that catch in Arlington, where he went over the wall to steal a home run back in dead center field. Then, his bat heated up and the entire Astros team caught fire. Beltran was one of the best hitters in the league, and he was batting second for that team.

That's how deep that Houston roster was. Biggio-Beltran-Berkman-Bagwell-Kent-Ensberg could have been a legendary lineup if all of those players had been at the top of their respective games that season. As it was, Bagwell, Biggio and Ensberg were either on the way up or down that year.

Still, Beltran lived up to his promise in a big way. He scored 70 runs in 90 games for Houston (which is why he's featured before Game No. 70). He hit 23 home runs, stole 28 bases and had 47 extra-base hits in those 90 games over just under 400 plate appearances.

He put that into overdrive in the playoffs, with another eight home runs in 12 games. But, let's not overlook what he did during the season. In those 90 games, or roughly 55 percent of the season, he was worth 4.4 wins above replacement for Houston, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs has him at 4.0 WAR over that stretch, because of a very low fielding runs number. Beltran was better than that.

The craziest stat of his time in Houston is that he posted a batting average on balls in play of .245 for those 90 games. That's easily the lowest of his career, yet he absolutely led that team offensively for the second half and was a big key in that second-half push to the wild card.

Yes, he shouldn't have left and we'd rather have signed him than Carlos Lee. But, sometimes, it's nice to dwell on just how good he was when he was here.

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